In announcing the news of the film, Peacock also confirmed that a significant chunk of the cast will be returning. Joel McHale (who plays Jeff Winger), Danny Pudi (Abed Nadir), Allison Brie (Annie Edison), Gillian Jacobs (Britta Perry), Jim Rash (Dean Craig Pelton), and Ken Jeong (Señor Ben Chang) are all officially in the fold.
While that is an impressive list of returning actors for a movie based on a TV show that concluded nearly a decade ago, one can’t help but notice there are a handful of big absences on it. Original cast members Donald Glover (Troy Barnes), Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley Bennet), and Chevy Chase (Pierce Hawthorne) are not included on that list, though Chase’s absence is not a surprise as his character was killed off and he was excommunicated from the show for…behaving like Chevy Chase. Additionally, latter season characters like Buzz Hickey (Jonathan Banks), Frankie Dart (Paget Brewster), and Elroy Patashnik (Keith David) are also not included in the announcement.
Certainly, a Community movie will make every effort to incorporate as many characters as possible (also likely including background faces like Star-Burns, Magnitude, and Vicki). Are Sony and Peacock merely being cagey about the full cast so that fans have some surprises to look forward to once the film is out? Our best guess is yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first: Pierce Hawthorne is not going to be in this film. And if he is included as some sort of ghostly specter, Chevy Chase will not be playing him. The reasons for this are well-catalogued in Community history and you can read up on them over here. TL;DR – don’t be racist. As for the other two original study group characters, Troy and Shirley, they will almost certainly make some sort of appearance.
Both Donald Glover and Yvette Nicole Brown have a good reason for not wanting to return as main cast members for a film: they’re extremely busy. Glover, as you may have heard, is a pretty big deal now. The former Community star is both a Grammy-winning musical artist under his nom de plume Childish Gambino and an Emmy-winning TV producer who just wrapped up work on FX’s Atlanta and will be moving over to Amazon for a big overall deal with Prime Video.
Meanwhile, Brown has created an impressive post-Community career for herself as a TV personality and super fan. The actress has parlayed her cheerful social media presence into multiple TV hosting gigs and has also become a prolific voiceover artist.